Alexanders

Botanical Name : Smyrnium olusatrum
Family: Apiaceae
Genus: Smyrnium
Species: S. olusatrum
Kingdom: Plantae
Order: Apiales

Common Names : Alexanders,alisanders, horse parsley and smyrnium.

Habitat :Alexanders is native to the Mediterranean, but is able to thrive further north.Europe to Asia. Naturalized in Britain.Grows in hedges and waste places, often near the sea.

Description:
Alexanders is a binnial plant, growing to 1.2 m (4ft) by 0.7 m (2ft 4in).(In the correct conditions, Alexanders will grow up to four or five feet tall.)  It is hardy to zone 6 and is not frost tender.The flowers are yellow-green in colour and its fruits are black. Alexanders is intermediate in flavor between celery and parsley. It is in flower from May to June, and the seeds ripen from Jun to August. The flowers are hermaphrodite (have both male and female organs) and are pollinated by Insects.The plant is self-fertile.
It is noted for attracting wildlife.
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The plant prefers light (sandy), medium (loamy) and heavy (clay) soils and requires well-drained soil.The plant prefers acid, neutral and basic (alkaline) soils..It can grow in semi-shade (light woodland) or no shade.It requires moist soil.The plant can tolerates strong winds but not maritime exposure.

Cultivation:
Succeeds in most soils but prefers an open sunny position in a well-drained moisture retentive soil. Hardy to about -15°c. At one time this plant was extensively grown for its edible leaves and stems but it has now fallen into virtual disuse, having been replaced by celery. The seeds are highly aromatic with a myrrh-like scent. A good bee plant.

Propagation  :
Seed – best sown in an outdoor seedbed in autumn and planted into its permanent position in late spring. Germination can be slow. The seed can also be sown in situ in spring.

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Edible Uses:
Edible Parts: Condiment;  Flowers;  Leaves;  RootStem.

Leaves and young shoots – raw in salads or cooked in soups, stews etc. The plant comes into growth in the autumn and the leaves are often available throughout the winter. They have a rather strong celery-like flavour and are often blanched (by excluding light from the growing plant) before use. Leafy seedlings can be used as a parsley substitute. Stem – raw or cooked. It tastes somewhat like celery, but is more pungent. The stem is often blanched (by excluding light from the growing plant) before use. Flower buds – raw. Added to salads, they have a celery-like flavour. The spicy seeds are used as a pepper substitute. Root – cooked. Boiled and used in soups, its flavour is somewhat like celery. The root is said to be more tender if it has been kept in a cool place all winter

It was once used in many dishes, either blanched, or not, but it has now been replaced by celery.

Medicinal Uses:
Bitter;  Digestive.

The whole plant is bitter and digestive. It has been used in the past in the treatment of asthma, menstrual problems and wounds, but is generally considered to be obsolete as a medicinal plant.

The plant was used in ancient days to relieve dropsy.  The seeds were often soaked in wine to create a tonic for scurvy when other sources of vitamin C were not available and also to promote menstruation.  The root is a diuretic.  The crushed leaves or their juice was a soothing and healing treatment for cuts and minor abrasions.  It was also used for asthma.   These uses are now obsolete

Disclaimer:The information presented herein is intended for educational purposes only. Individual results may vary, and before using any supplements, it is always advisable to consult with your own health care provider

Resources:
http://www.pfaf.org/user/Plant.aspx?LatinName=Smyrnium+olusatrum
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alexanders
http://sophy.u-3mrs.fr/Photo-cp/Sin/Smyrnium_olusatrum__________27_01_2001_2.JPG
http://www.herbnet.com/Herb%20Uses_AB.htm

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